Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Childfree women: An archetypal perspective
by Jacobs, Bernadette, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2007, 305; 3281466
Abstract (Summary)

Throughout the ages, the majority of women have given birth and continue to do so. The ubiquity of motherhood obscures the fact that approximately 19% of contemporary American women forego motherhood. The overarching purpose of this study was to more deeply understand this population through an integration of archetypal and feminist perspectives. The researcher examined unique clinical issues that these women may encounter related to their childfree status, such as social disapproval, unanticipated guilt, and lack of connectedness to future generations. Additional purposes were to become aware of nonbiological ways these women may express mothering, and to sensitize clinicians to limiting views they may hold about childfree women. Clinicians may choose to introduce relevant mythology and film into the therapeutic process.

An exploration of the energy patterns represented by the three Greek virgin archetypes, Artemis, Athena, and Hestia, was at the heart of this study. Three films were selected for analysis; each portrayed a contemporary western woman whose behavior patterns corresponded to one of the goddesses. Relevant mythology of each goddess was also incorporated in order to amplify understanding of the predominant energy patterns of each archetype.

A theoretical hermeneutic approach was employed that involved using each film as a starting point or horizon from which to evoke the unconscious of the researcher and to gather relevant information in the form of a narrative summary. Each summary was followed by an analysis of the film based on applying Hillman's (1975) concepts of personifying, pathologizing, psychologizing, and dehumanizing to the central character. The characters were also analyzed according to Jung's (1938/1964) concept of the negative mother complex in order to understand the impact this complex may have on a woman's feminine instincts.

Each film character was found to have embodied positive and negative energy patterns that corresponded to one of the three archetypes. Commonalities as well as differences were discovered in each of the characters in relationship to the negative mother complex. Nonbiological patterns of nurturing that were exclusive of motherhood and that corresponded to a specific archetypal pattern were also apparent. Therapeutic concerns in relationship to the mythic patterns of childfree women were found to be evident in contemporary film.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Downing, Christine
Commitee:
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 68/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Womens studies, Psychology
Keywords: Archetypal, Childfree, Women
Publication Number: 3281466
ISBN: 9780549232605
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